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Lights, Camera, Kasich!
Presidential Candidates Hold Rallies throughout Region
SARATOGA SPRINGS – For one day, Monday, April 11, the dateline of this story could be CENTER OF THE POLITICAL UNIVERSE. This would accurately describe the activity that took place throughout the Capital Region. On that day, political junkies enjoyed a feast – a triple crown, if you will. On that day:
- Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally at Albany’s Times Union Center that drew an estimated 17,000 people,
- Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders held a capacity-bursting rally at Albany’s Washington Avenue Armory,
- And Republican candidate John Kasich, after making appearances in Albany and Troy, wound up his busy campaign day with a stop locally for a Town Hall style meeting before an SRO audience at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
City Center Parking Structure Passes 3-2
MOO-vers And Shakers!
City Center to Host Holstein Convention
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Please forgive me, but I want to milk this for all it’s worth.
The Saratoga Springs City Center will join such luminary cities such as Calgary, Alberta and Fort Worth, Texas as it transforms Saratoga Springs into a version of “Cowtown,” when it will be the site of the annual National Holstein Convention from June 27 to July 1. The Co-chairs of the event are Jeff and Becky King from King Brothers Dairy and Kings-Ransom Farm, located in Bacon Hill just outside of Saratoga Springs.
“We’re excited at the buzz this is already generating,” said Becky King, who had just attended statewide convention in Utica. “We can wait to show off our hometown area at our industry’s National Convention!”
The theme of this year’s convention is “New York Charm – City to Farm” and the estimated 800 -1,200 attendees, according to City Center President Mark Baker, will get a taste of some of the great attractions the Saratoga region has to offer – including the Saratoga Battlefield and The National Museum of Racing; fun stops like the Saratoga Strike Zone and Great Escape, in addition to Holstein breeder farm tours such as Kings-Ransom.
The convention attendees are potential buyers for the approximately 80 head of Holstein cattle that will be auctioned. “These are the most prized breed in the dairy industry,” Baker said. “The highest quality stock is here in the Northeast, and we anticipate interested parties coming in from all 50 states, as well as from Europe, South America and Asia.”
In explaining how this particular convention deal came about, Mark Baker cited several factors. “Our staff, in conjunction with the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, are always on the lookout for new events. In this case, Jeff King was a key person – he and Kings-Ransom stepped up about six years ago; due to our recent expansion he said he believed that we were now big enough to host an event of this magnitude, and lobbied hard to get Saratoga on the schedule, which is planned years in advance.” He said. Baker also cited the emphasis that Saratoga County places on its agricultural industry as a factor in the decision to locate the convention here.
The economic impact on the local area, which Baker estimates could run upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars during the conventioneer’s stay, should udder-ly delight local hoteliers and merchants. Sorry.
But the convention attendees will also be here for serious business, and will spend from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars themselves on the prized dairy cattle. “Holsteins are the go-to breed in the dairy industry,” Baker said. While many of the events surrounding the convention are for attendees, Baker noted that there are several portions that the local residents could participate and enjoy.
The day before the convention, on Sunday June 26, the public will be able to view the prized Holsteins as they arrive, are groomed and loaded into the City Center facility. This will take place in the Maple Avenue parking lot – across from the City Center loading dock. During the conference, in the hotel pavilion area, organizations including the local 4-H and area dairy farms will have an exposition booth.
Then there is the live auction and sale itself, scheduled to be Thursday afternoon, June 30. The public can attend this, but much like Fasig-Tipton, you are advised to keep your hands in your pockets, lest you end up an unexpected houseguest.
But at least, it will bring the milk. I herd that!
For more information about the 2016 Convention nyholsteins.com/2016convention/index.html
Council, Public Hear RFP Responder’s Presentations
Seeking to Develop High Rock Parcel
SARATOGA SPRINGS – At a special Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 10, the only agenda item was presentations by the two groups seeking to develop the last large parcel in Downtown Saratoga Springs. The 2.6-acre site bordered by Lake, High Rock and Maple Avenues adjacent to High Rock Park has been the subject of intense interest, and the meeting was moved upstairs from the Council room to the larger Music Hall.
Community Builders/Paramount Realty and a team led by Hyman Hemispheric, LLC delivered presentations. Both proposed development scenarios involved mixed use: Combining parking with residential and commercial applications and both noted that they were attempting to respond to the needs of the community which they indicated had desired more than just a parking garage in this location, while attempting to respond to the need for more parking for the Saratoga Springs City Center, as well as being sensitive to the impact on the adjacent Mouzon House Restaurant. They did differ on several key points as to how best to accomplish these varied goals.
Community / Paramount presented first and detailed a $77 million mixed-use plan called High Rock Village that had 607 parking places (259 earmarked for the City Center, 30 for City Hall use, 140 for the development’s residents and 178 for the public) and presented a financial scenario that assumed the first hour of parking would be free, $1.50/hr. thereafter; and 166 mixed housing units: 64 senior, 42 “workforce housing” for young professionals and families, 36 condominiums and 24 market rate apartments. The plan anticipated about 50,000 square feet of retail space. The plan had several design features detailed including a pedestrian promenade running North/South and a possible water feature, perhaps including a ‘living wall’ fed by the water along the High Rock Park side of the development. Overall, their financial plan anticipated 50 percent of all revenue from the development going to the City, with about $2 million in annual tax revenue.
Hyman Hemispheric presented their team, which included Sequence Development, Phinney Design, Consigli Construction and JCJ Architecture. They noted that the team had worked together before and involved a local presence (e.g.: Phinney and Consigli). Their plan involved an outright purchase of the land for $2.6 million and would have 656 parking spaces, of which 350 would be reserved for the needs of the new development; 106,000 square feet of housing – a mix of market and workforce; 65,000 sq. ft. of office space in a four-level structure and retail. Mike Phinney noted that much of the actual design of the development would best be reserved until a charette (a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions) was conducted among concerned interest groups (such as the Downtown Business Association) and the public. Phinney indicated that the best projects are those placed before the land use boards with the public already supportive of the design detail.
However, their presentation did have some important broad design elements, such as setting aside 35,400 sq. ft. for open space, ‘green notes’ such as pocket parks and other pedestrian oriented features, including a park space facing the Mouzon House. The presenters stressed the primacy on an east-west flow of people, from the development to Downtown and the City Center, as well as retail across High Rock Avenue. The philosophy of the development was to use retail and housing to minimize the “garage presence”, concealing the parking portion to the greatest extent possible.
While generally appreciative of the two presenting teams’ efforts, some of the Council’s comments following the two presentations indicated that they had concerns that the two proposals did not adequately address the amount of parking space needs for the City Center, and did not provide for direct connectivity to the City Center from the parking area. Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan expressed concern with the overall magnitude of the two projects for the area available, and called for a comprehensive traffic study involving traffic flow, congestion and parking requirements in the immediate and surrounding areas. Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen raised the point that part of the parcel might best be reserved for a City Hall annex to alleviate overcrowding and satisfy the need for a mandated second courtroom in the city.
The City’s Big Economic Engine
City Center Reports Banner Year
SARATOGA SPRINGS –The Saratoga Springs City Center hosted a record 157 events, among several other highlights, in its 30th anniversary year. The City Center’s 2014 annual report, delivered to the Saratoga Springs City Council this past Tuesday, April 21 by City Center President Mark Baker, detailed several other pieces of good news, including:
- -The 157 events represented a new record in building use days; the City Center was in use for 314.5 days in the last calendar year. This translates into overall occupancy of 86 percent. They hosted 68 conventions and conferences.
“This is a testament to the investment the community made in our recent expansion,” Baker noted. The facility grew by over 12,000 square feet to a total of 32,000 feet of meeting and event space. “With our new facilities we are now able to host larger events, and two or three groups at a time; sometimes each with a different caterer.” He said.
- -They welcomed 150, 931 guests to its facility in 2014. Of these, 19,947 were convention guests that would stay over one or more nights at area hotels. Each of these guests (and their associations) would spend an average of $910.16 locally during their stay, according to estimates provided by The Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau. This translated into a minimum of $18 million in sales.
- -Day guests, a total of 130,984, spent an average of $88.94 per person. These guests added over $11.6 million in sales. The total sales impact of $29,804,678.48 does not include sales at non-City Center hosted businesses (such as motor coach tours and sporting events).
- -The City Center generated $576,000 in rental income, as well as $447,000 in sales tax revenue to both the City of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County.
- -In 2014, the City Center and the Saratoga Springs area demonstrated its enduring appeal, as 76 percent of the events it hosted were returning for the second time or more. The annual report listed 19 groups that had the City Center host their event for 20 or more years.
A key reason frequently cited for these groups’ ongoing loyalty has been the remarkable tenure of the City Center’s staff. Of their 13 full-time employees, eight have been with the City Center for 10 or more years, four of those for over 25! This employee consistency allows the staff to become and remain familiar with the unique nuances and needs of each event and group.
- -The City Center also hosted 37 events for the first time. Overall, 20 events were hosted as a public service to the community, including not-for-profit and civic organizations, as well as the City Center’s Family Day last September.
Perhaps the best news that Mark Baker delivered to the city council is that the 2014 numbers were by no means a high-water mark for the Saratoga Springs City Center. He noted that for the first quarter of 2015, data for both events and guests were trending ahead of 2014’s record figures.
“The days of a ‘slow’ or ‘shoulder’ season are a thing of the past in Saratoga Springs.” Baker said.
The complete 2014 annual report can be read online. Visit SaratogaCityCenter.com. Click on ‘governance’, then 2014 annual report.
100+ Unique Gift-Buying Opportunities!
39th Craft Marketplace Starts Holiday Shopping Season At City Center
By Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Downtown Saratoga Springs is always a great choice to do your holiday shopping. This Saturday, it’s an even better one, as The Saratoga Springs City Center will be wall-to-wall with unique gift ideas from a variety of craft specialists in every medium imaginable.
Saratoga Center for the Family will be the host and beneficiary of the 39th Craft Marketplace on Saturday, November 29, also known as Small Business Saturday. The Marketplace will be held at Saratoga Springs City Center from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
This annual Craft Marketplace attracts over 100 hand-selected artisans who gather in the City Center to showcase and sell their handmade art. These crafts include jewelry, paintings, children’s toys, blown glass, pottery, holiday ornamentation, edibles, clothing and one-of-a-kind specialties. The Craft Marketplace has been a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for 39 years, and Event Chair Ann Wolpert balances variety, quality and craftsmanship to assure that there will be something special for everyone on your holiday gift list.
Marketplace admission is $5 and includes two raffle tickets along with exclusive offers to participating downtown Saratoga Springs restaurants, in an effort to further promote Small Business Saturday commerce. The Craft Marketplace also offers silent auction opportunities for a variety of desirable items such as tickets to local holiday events, autographed collectable memorabilia and much more.
Last year the Marketplace raised over $25,000 for Saratoga Center for the Family, with over 3,000 shoppers in attendance. Funds raised for Saratoga Center support their mission to build stronger families throughout Saratoga County through mental health counseling, educational programs and child advocacy center.
Some of the many notable and talented artisans include:
- John and Linda Garrison
Handmade Glass Hot Air Balloons
When asked about his craft, artisan John Garrison notes, “The process is quite extensive. First, tubing glass is heated, manipulated and thickened. Then, using a set of four burners and a lathe, the glass is spun and blown into a ball. A glass rod at top of the balloon is twisted and the bottom is tapered. Then the balloon is placed in an annealing oven, where the temperature is slowly reduced to temper (or strengthen) the glass.
“Once the balloon is cool, my wife Linda individually hand paints each balloon using special proprietary paints.” He said. “Then the balloons are placed in a kiln and heated to harden and bake the paint onto the glass. A handmade basket is attached to the bottom to complete the piece.”
- “The Gourmet Gal”
Balsamic and Honey Vinaigrette have now joined Deborah Mackey and Kaelyn Brennan’s original, Savory Sauce. This created the ultimate trio of multi purpose sauces. All of these sauces can be used on literally anything and the best part is you never need to refrigerate them and all three are gluten free.
- Erika M. Klein
Film Strip Lampshades
Ms. Klein recalls, “It all started when I crafted a dress from film for a recycled fashion show. After creating a dress from movie trailer film I started playing with the leftover trailer reel filmstrips and light. What came from that are my lampshade line. What’s unique about these shades are when the lamp is off, the shade appears almost black. But when it’s lit you can actually see the film images. Each one I create is a one-of-a-kind.”
The Craft Marketplace provides a great way to embrace the philosophy of “shopping small” on Small Business Saturday. Since 2010, when American Express developed it, Small Business Saturday is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country.
Wolpert noted “This as a beautiful opportunity to create a unique community experience kicking off the holiday shopping season, and of course, to promote downtown Saratoga Springs’ by encouraging Marketplace shoppers to also venture out onto Broadway to support our retail and restaurant community.”
For more information about Saturday’s Craft Marketplace, visit saratogacraft.org or the Saratoga Center for the Family Facebook page for ongoing posts promoting featured craft artisans: facebook.com/SaratogaCenter
City Council: ‘Interested’ But Maybe Not ‘Involved’
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A public hearing on final revisions to the St. John Neumann senior housing development plan and zoning map amendment proposed by the Bonacio Corporation preceded the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 6. Those who spoke at the hearing were generally favorable to the project, with one resident voicing some concerns about possible traffic problems with children in the neighborhood. Among those who spoke in favor of the project was Father Paul Borowski of St. Clements RC Church, the current owner of the Neumann property.
Essentially, the council’s final concerns revolved around the structure of the language regarding the amount of land in the parcel that would be reserved for buffering, and the residential density of the project. The applicant’s attorney, Michael J. Toohey, proposed that a restriction be added to the deed which would reserve just over two acres of buffer area in the 11-acre parcel from future development except for park, trails and related ‘passive’ development and that this portion be removed from density calculations. This would cap the number of residential units for all time at 92 (the current Bonacio plan calls for 85) and that number would be fixed for any potential future deed-holders.
With these conditions satisfied, the council, which was favorable to the project from the beginning, passed the two resolutions unanimously, clearing the way for the new senior housing development.
During the public comment period, an issue was raised by several members of the “Trackside Neighborhood Association” about the designation of one-way streets in the area around Lincoln and Frank Sullivan Place during the summer racing season. The residents said that they had not been adequately notified. Resident Mary Farrell said that this would impose a financial hardship upon her due to the loss of parking revenue on her lawn during the race meet.
Commissioner of Public Safety Christian Mathiesen responded that he believed the notice was adequate, that this would be reviewed after the race meet and modified if necessary and that he was open to discussing the issue with residents.
Officials from the Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) –
Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs along with Tony Stellato, civil engineer with CHA Engineering and Brian Davis, director of design and development – made a presentation about their proposed hotel/event venue expansion. Prior to the presentation, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, noting that SCR’s revision of their application had downgraded the city’s status from an “involved” agency to “interested” – due to the fact that SCR will not require an additional water and sewer hookup for their proposed new facilities.
This is more than nuance. The change in designation means a further restriction on the city’s official ability to review SCR’s plans; currently the State Gaming Commission is the lead agency for reviewing this proposal. The mayor noted though, “The city has every intention to have a seat at the table.” She went further and took note of many city resident’s advocacy that the city file an article 78 motion to place itself as lead agency, although City Attorney Mark Schachner ventured his opinion at the microphone that the city had attempted to do this when SCR expanded last in 2006, and lost that effort to be named lead agency.
Mr. Schachner’s analysis of the current law is that it would make it more difficult for the city to win an Article 78 motion than in 2006, and that it would be costly for the city. Rather, he urged that there be the type of cooperative spirit that he observed from SCR in coming to the council to present it’s plans.
In fact, SCR is intending to go further in referencing city agencies than it is currently required to do legally. They have pledged to appear at the city planning board twice to present its plans. Their first planning board presentation will be on Wednesday, May 14.
Saratoga Springs City Center President Mark Baker, who advocated that the city do all it can from a “legal, legislative and civil” standpoint to oppose SCR’s expansion, also delivered the City Center’s annual report for 2013. Mr. Baker noted that the facility had maintained its high plateau that it established after its expansion in 2011. Overall, the City Center enjoyed a remarkable 80 percent occupancy, generating an unaudited $1.9 million in sales tax revenue for the city.
Saratoga Beer Week: Great Events On Tap
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Beginning next Tuesday, February 18 the suds will be flowing throughout town as the Third Annual Saratoga Beer Week takes hold.
Todd Garofano, President of the Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau observed, “Saratoga Beer Week has quickly grown into one of Saratoga’s signature events. Having expended already to accommodate the growing crowds and participants from its first year in 2012, this year’s incarnation promises to build on that success. We expect more visitors filling hotel rooms, spending time in our shops and restaurants and enjoying the amazing variety of craft beers in the many venues Saratoga has to offer.”
A complete schedule of events appears online at saratogabeerweek.com. The event week all leads up to Saturday’s Saratoga Beer Summit at the Saratoga Springs City Center, with anticipated crowds so large that admission has been broken into two sessions: 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. During each of these 3-hour sessions you have the opportunity to sample over 150 different beers from over 80 American craft breweries, plus enjoy food samples and live music.
It all begins on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Olde Saratoga Brewing Company at 161 Excelsior Avenue. This ‘Beer and Barbeque Bash’ kicks off a full slate of Olde Saratoga’s activities, which will see them take it on the road around town to venues like the Local on Beekman Street, Maestros and The Stadium on Broadway, The Olde Bryan Inn and Uno’s on Route 50. Some of these promotions, in the spirit of good cheer, will be in conjunction with other regional brewers such as Adirondack in Lake George and Brown’s in Troy.
The two Stadium Cafés each have their own promotions this week. At the Westside location, they will feature a special “Slides and Suds” promotion throughout Beer Week, which features four types of sliders with four different crafted beers selected by the Craft Brew Alliance.
Local craft brewers Druthers (381 Broadway), as expected, have a full slate of activities and events, including a brewery tour on Thursday, February 20 at 4 p.m.
Two music events of note precede the Beer Summit at the City Center. On Thursday evening at 7 p.m., fresh off their headlining gig at First Night, are Beatles tribute band Hey Jude.
On Friday at 7 p.m. the nationally acclaimed Irish band Black 47 will take the stage. This is extra notable as the band has announced that they will be disbanding this November after 25 years touring worldwide together.
As always, there are incentives for early ticket buyers to many events. You can avoid any day-of-event increases and order tickets online at saratogabeerweek.com